PROGRESSIVE MUSLIMS: On Justice, Gender and Pluralism

Omid Safi, Editor
Omid Safi, Editor . Oneworld $25.95 (351p) ISBN 978-1-85168-316-1
Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Hardcover - 365 pages - 978-1-4356-8406-5
Hardcover - 341 pages - 978-1-78074-045-4
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Safi, a Colgate University professor, assembles a diverse set of essays by and about "progressive" Muslims. The essays vary in topic and in effectiveness, but generally seek to challenge the images of Islam held by both xenophobic Westerners and extremist Muslims. Safi's introduction, though showing insight into many problems today's Muslims face but rarely discuss publicly, is clunky, citing sources from Gandhi to Bob Dylan. Part I offers hard-hitting essays that are sure to be controversial in their discussion of what scholar Tazim Kassam claims is a "curtailment... of civil liberties such as freedom of inquiry and the expression of dissenting opinions" in the U.S. after September 11. There are also some triumphant essays. Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle superbly analyzes Islam's categorization of homosexuality as a sin in an essay that is long overdue and probably the only scholarly work of its kind. Gwendolyn Simmons's piece demands the establishment of feminism as Islamic in a touching essay-cum-memoir that connects her growth as a Muslim female to her experience as a young African-American during the Civil Rights era. The incomparable Amina Wadud offers an excellent article on racial tensions between immigrant and indigenous Muslims, while Marcia Hermansen pens the volume's bravest and most honest contribution, addressing the increasing conservatism of her American Muslim students—a topic previously not discussed outside the Muslim community. This collection is recommended for those who yearn for realistic information about Muslims, and for Muslims who are disgruntled with current Islamic leadership. (Sept.)

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